A Practical Guide to Limiting Your Food Waste
Food waste is an enormous problem in Canada. A recent study estimates that the average Canadian throws away more than 100kg of food each year. Yikes! This is a problem both for the environment and for our wallets. It’s disheartening to spend hard-earned money on nutritious quality foods only to see it go bad before it gets enjoyed. Let’s put an end to food waste, or at the very least, make a big dent in the issue.
Here are some tips to help reduce your food waste this year and moving forward. Plus, it might even help you eat healthier on the whole.
1. Meal plan and grocery shop.
Each week, usually on Sunday or Monday, I sit down with my husband and we brainstorm our meals for the week. This practice helps me feel prepared for the week, reduces the time we spend at the grocery store (we can be a man and woman on a mission instead of wandering the aisles in search of inspiration), and limits the number of nights my husband and I get home from work feeling too tired to cook and get take-out instead. Planning out our meals allows us to buy only what we’ll need for the week.
2. Freeze your smoothie greens.
This has been one of my favourite #lifehacks since I fell in love with green smoothies years ago. I buy the Power Greens mix (for added variety) in a giant Costco-sized bag and pop it straight into the freezer, taking out a couple handfuls when I make a smoothie. This helps me avoid sorting through the dreaded half-full bag or box of slimy greens for any salvageable leaves.
3. Prep snacks and store in the fridge or freezer.
Prepping healthy snacks is a habit I highly encourage. You’re much more likely to eat healthily if the healthier options are just as quick to reach as the sugary or processed foods. For example:
Fill a big bowl with freshly chopped veggies and store them in the fridge to be enjoyed with hummus, avocado, or even just on their own.
Bake some nutrient-rich and low-sugar muffins or loaves (my current favourites are the Paleo Banana Nut Muffins from Bakerita, the Paleo Pumpkin and Carrot Muffins from Nom Nom Paleo, and a forever favourite The Life Changing Loaf of Bread from My New Roots) and store them in individual servings in bags or containers in the freezer. Then remove one and let it thaw in your lunch bag or pop it in the oven for a bit to warm up.
4. Use those wilting greens.
Greens seem to be some of the hardest to keep fresh. I often end up with a few leaves of kale that are past their prime. But just because they’re no longer crisp doesn’t mean they don’t have nutritional value still! Two ways I use up wilty greens are:
Throwing them into soups at the very end of the cooking process. This adds extra nutrients to your meal, and by adding them at the end they won’t get too too soft.
Sauces are also a great place to use up wilting greens. Classic pesto sauces rely heavily on basil for the green component. But don’t be fooled, you can add other greens to your pesto sauce too! Just throw that extra kale, spinach, etc. into the food processor with the other ingredients. Chimichurri is another sauce that could use some extra greens as well – handfuls of cilantro, parsley, kale, etc. And they freeze well, especially if you pour the sauce into a flexible ice cube tray and freeze for individual servings to be added to other dishes later.
5. Roasted veggie soup.
We all end up with veggies that are past their prime and no longer appealing in their whole form. The great news is most every veggie tastes delicious when roasted with a little oil and seasoning. Plus you can pop a tray in the oven, go do something else, then come back in an hour or so. Once the veggies are roasted you can turn them into a creamy-textured soup with some stock (veggie, chicken, or homemade broth) and an immersion blender (or a Vitamix if you have one). Tori from Fraiche Nutrition gives has a good recipe that you can adapt easily to what’s in your fridge - find it here.
6. If all else fails, stir-fry!
And of course, if you’re short on time or creativity, stir-fry is delicious! Chop up those veggies and greens, season with your favourite stir-fry sauce and add in some protein. Serve on top of fresh greens, cooked quinoa or wild rice for a quick meal.
Good luck cutting back your food waste! Together, we can make a BIG difference!